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Name: Lawton W.
Status: educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 11/24/2003


Question:
If a spaceship (or any large object) entered the Earth's atmosphere very, very slowly (if it could ignore the effects of gravity), then would it still heat up?


Replies:
Lawton,

If re-entry conditions as you describe could be achieved, the entering object would not heat up appreciably because the heat generated on re-entry is that derived from intense air friction against the object's skin. Low re-entry speed would still create friction -- after all, the object must push aside the air through which it passes -- however, the rate of heat build up would be low and well within the object's capacity to discharge that heat as radiation from its surface.

Regards,
ProfHoff 755


Lawton,

If a spaceship entered slowly at night, it would not heat up. There would be no heat from the sun and very little heat from the atmosphere. In fact, it might freeze. The upper atmosphere is full of ice and snow (i.e. clouds).

Kenneth Mellendorf



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